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Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

Statements regarding an expected level of requirements and conditions against which quality is assessed or that must be attained by higher education institutions and their programmes in order for them to be accredited or certified. Standards may take a quantitative form, being mostly the results of benchmarking, or they may be qualitative, indicating only specific targets (e.g., educational effectiveness, sustainability, core commitments, etc.). When quantitative, the standards include threshold levels that have to be met in order for higher education institutions or programmes to be accredited. More often than not, the thresholds are defined at the level of minimally acceptable quality. 


The process of using student inputs concerning the general activity and attitude of teachers. These observations allow the overall assessors to determine the degree of conformability between student expectations and the actual teaching approaches of teachers. Student evaluations are expected to offer insights regarding the attitude in class of a teacher (approachable, open-minded, entertaining, creative, patient, etc.), and/or the abilities of a teacher (to explain things, to motivate students, to help students think, to correct mistakes in a friendly manner, to offer information efficiently, etc.). 


The act of assembling, analyzing, and using both quantitative and qualitative evidence of teaching and learning outcomes, in order to examine their congruence with stated purposes and educational objectives and to provide meaningful feedback that will stimulate improvement. 


An assessment method that uses surveys and interviews to ascertain the satisfaction of enrolled students with programmes, services, and different other aspects of their academic experience. Students are usually asked to respond to a series of open-ended, close-ended, or telephone questions. The survey may include in-class questionnaires, mail questionnaires, telephone questionnaires, and/or interviews (standard, in-person, or focus group). Student surveys are relatively inexpensive, easy to administer, and can reach participants over a wide area. They are best suited for concise and non-sensitive topics, being able to give a sense, from the student perspective, of what is happening at a given moment in time, in the respective higher education institutions. Some observers may question their validity or reliability, as well as their relevance to academic policy.


Subject benchmark statements provide means for the academic community to describe the nature and characteristics of programmes in a specific subject and the general expectations about standards for the award of a qualification at a given level in a particular subject area. They are reference points in a quality assurance framework more than prescriptive statements about curricula.


The process by which a programme is judged to have met the requirements for an award by a relevant institution with degree-awarding powers (institutional self-evaluation) or by a relevant examining board (validation by an outside examining body).


Time (measured in hours) expected to be used by a learner at a certain stage/cycle to achieve expected learning outcomes. Time involves all activities related to learning and expected from a student (lectures, seminars, tutorials, individual studying, search of information, research, team work, practical work, study visits and exams).

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